Monday, December 27, 2010

Argentine Protests Rattle Kirchner Administration

Awesome pics from a couple of weeks ago: "Villa Soldati, Buenos Aires: Violence Quelled With Involvement of Authorities".

And at WSJ:

BUENOS AIRES—A series of street clashes involving squatters is undermining support for President Cristina Kirchner and raising questions about her capacity to maintain order without her late husband and political partner, Nestor Kirchner.

Despite shaking up the top ranks of the police, Mrs. Kirchner hasn't been able to dislodge squatters from an athletic club and other high-profile sites in Buenos Aires. And since the first squatter incident took place at a park a month ago, there seems to be an increase of copycat land takeovers throughout Argentina, as well as other disturbances, including a riot at a busy Buenos Aires train station last week.

As a result of the growing public disorder, the level of disapproval with Mrs. Kirchner's administration shot up more than nine points, to 52.1%, in December from the prior month, according to a survey by the Management & Fit polling firm.

Mrs. Kirchner is still the front-runner in presidential elections in October 2011, partly because of a divided opposition, although she hasn't announced she'll seek a second term. But the government's halting and contradictory response to the security crisis has eroded some recent gains Mrs. Kirchner had made with middle-class voters, who had become more sympathetic to her after Mr. Kirchner died of a heart attack in October.

In response to the clashes, Mrs. Kirchner recently announced the creation of a new federal agency, the Ministry of Security, under the command of former defense minister Nilda Garre. She also ordered 6,000 military police to patrol greater Buenos Aires. But Mrs. Kirchner has prohibited police from carrying firearms at protests. Mrs. Kirchner is a leftist who has long criticized excesses by Argentine security forces.
See also NYT, "Conflict Over Squatters Divides Argentina."